Notes on the Selling of Social Marketing Strategies: Getting a Yes for Your Assessment Project

I recently updated my client presentation on the topic How to Do an Opportunity Assesment to Leverage Social Media at a Business. Special thanks to Susan McElhenney and John Rasco at Refreshweb for fine-tuning this.

After reading a Mashable blog post today – Data: What Are the Benefits of Social Media Marketing?
— I started wondering how I can continue to refine my conversations
with clients about social marketing strategies. Why? Because, according
to this survey of marketing folks, Customer Engagement was at
the top of the responses: 85%. So what does this mean, really? It the
kind of statement that rolls off the tongue easily and sounds
comforting to hear. But I think there is a lot of silent genuflecting
going on about the fear of cost, fear of staffing, fear of
organizational changes and so forth.

Social Engagement, another way of saying Customer Engagement,
is a vague topic to discuss. Without some clear direction and
leadership in the conversation, the client is often confused to the
point of losing their motivation (or self-confidence) to pursue funding
and defining requirements, out of fear of making a career-limiting move
to support a long-term project on the web. So what happens is during a
presentation you get peppered with questions that become sharper and
more direct about ‘how’ are they going to measure the results of social
marketing strategy.

It’s helpful to step back and think about your sales projects before
heading into that first ‘group’ presentation so your time and the
clients’ are well spent. It’s hard to get back to a client if your
presentation runs out of gas. You can avoid this with some preplanning
and thoughtful pre-sales collaboration efforts.

Let’s Talk Big-Picture First
This is a critical part of the
presentation, and truthfully the pre-visit telephone calls with the
client are essential to assess if they are of the right mindset to
actually pursue a social marketing strategy at their business. What you
want to suss out is who is the champion (or thought leader in the
group) and who is responsible for the budget. These are all the usual
things you do in sales, of course. But the important piece is to really
get alongside them and talk about, encourage, document and direct their
expectations on what can be achived over a 6- to 12-month period.

  • Welcome online interaction and conversations, listen for opportunities to help
  • Brand monitoring (this is now more possible with so many vendors
    bringing brand monitoring tools to the market. This all sounds good but
    it’s important to have some screen grabs of search engine results, and
    blog conversations where products are being discussed for the client to
    actually ’see’ what it means to monitor the brand on the Internet.
  • Company becomes more visible. Stop fires before they start
  • Monitor trends
  • Emerging and hot issues
  • Sentiment about products
  • Conversation-starting topics
  • Audience style and preferences
  • Adjustments to the corporate culture to engage more with your community. This
    isn’t obvious at first so it’s important to bring this up repeatedly
    from different perspectives. Ultimately most businesses, if they are
    successful with social marketing, find that they have to organize
    themselves different to really utilize the results of their engagement
    with web traffic.

Here’s What We Do after the Assessment

  • Continue to seed your online community thoughtfully with your
    educational content via blogs, Twitter, forum participation, email lists
  • Monitor trends and look for insights
  • Create a plan to capture and review what’s being learned from the community (and related social media channels)
  • Metrics – monitoring and measuring your program
  • Survey – and ask the community as it grows – what does it want? Lead and partner with the community


How We Begin

  • Set goals
  • Listen, and gather information
  • Recommendations and strategy-setting (follow-on meetings)
  • Research/discover where your prospects are online and their personas (be where they expect you to be and understand their personality motivations)
  • Develop a strategy for engagement at locations where prospects exist, on your site and other websites
  • Create a workflow for content creation and reuse in traditional and
    social marketing activities that align with your traditional marketing



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